Get a load: NASA tests washing powder made for space

How do astronauts wash clothes in space? they do not.

They wear underwear, sportswear, and anything else until they can no longer stand the filth and smell, and then throw them away.

According to NASA, a lot of dirty clothes are thrown away every year. Clothes deemed too dirty to be worn will be put away until the end of the trip. Then they were placed on unmanned cargo ships, and when they returned to Earth, these cargo ships would burn out in the atmosphere. In order to change this situation, the space agency cooperated with Procter & Gamble to study how to wash clothes in space so that they can be reused for months or even years as they do on Earth.

The Cincinnati Company announced on Tuesday that it will send a pair of Tide detergent and decontamination experiments to the space station later this year and later next year, all of which are part of the galaxy’s clothing that fights soiling and sweating.

This is not a small problem, especially since the United States and other countries hope to establish bases on the moon and Mars.

Error factor

According to NASA, rocket cargo space is limited and expensive, so if the clothes can be washed, why waste it on extra clothes?

Maxivik, a chemist who specializes in fabrics and home care technology at Procter & Gamble, said that when you calculate that an astronaut needs 68 kilograms of clothing each year in space, this number will quickly add up, especially in the long run During a three-year mission to Mars.

There are also health- and ick- factors.

Space station astronauts exercise for two hours a day to combat the effects of muscle and bone atrophy caused by weightlessness, which will quickly make their sportswear sweat, smelly and stiff.

According to former NASA astronaut and NFL player Leland Melvin, their T-shirts, shorts and socks eventually became so dirty that they would wear a pair every week.

“After that, they were considered toxic,” said Melvin, who served as the spokesperson for the project. “They like to have their own lives. They are sweaty and stiff.”

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Although NASA and other space station partners have studied special antibacterial clothing to extend wearing time, this is not a long-term solution.

Testing space cleaners and washing machines

In initial experiments, P&G will send detergents customized for space in December so that scientists can see how enzymes and other ingredients respond to six months of weightlessness.

Then next May, decontamination pens and wipes will be delivered to astronauts for testing.

At the same time, P&G is developing a combination of washer-dryers that can run on the moon or even Mars, using minimal water and detergent. This kind of machine is also useful in arid regions on the earth.

One of the many design challenges: The water in the laundry room needs to be recycled for drinking and cooking, just like urine and sweat are currently recycled on the space station.

“The best solutions come from the most diverse teams,” Melvin said. “Can you be more diverse than Tide and NASA?”

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